A little over 33 years ago, a young girl of 23 with the bright red vermilion on her parting spilling onto her forehead, proclaiming her status a new bride, stepped on platform no.1 of Secunderabad Railway Station, apprehension and excitement writ all over her face. They were there – old friends of her new husband, their beaming faces and helping hands making it all too easy to begin with and it seemed she had known them and the city all her life. And it was easier to think of Moloyda and Naruda as older cousins whom she looked up to and admired. Finally, the lovely little house at Kavadiguda, putting up new curtains, the scent of polish on new furniture, exciting adventures with the kerosene stove and the gargantuan fish, weighing no less than 5 kg that the man in her life decided to surprise her with; the early days of sweet nothings, romantic rides on the old Lamby scooter, the breeze from Hussain Sagar ruffling her hair and billowing out her dupatta – not for a moment did the old malady of homesickness invade her soul. There were not too many tears for that little room back in faraway Durgapur.
Then came a more welcome invasion, the additional responsibilities of motherhood – baby scents, babbling sounds and teething woes and milk boiling over, chaos and noise and tiny clothes, tinier mittens and teeny-weeny fingers trying to grasp your own. Two years of this and it starts all over again and then suddenly, almost magically, there were two pairs of little feet keeping the days alive and alight and making the house – a home.
As the years rolled by, the young parents grew into middle age, the children played and grew up and spent an idyllic childhood amidst the tall eucalyptus and the wide open grounds of the office campus. Then school happened, followed by college and one day the mirror on the wall revealed the first grey strands in the hair; the laugh lines were actually beginning to look like wrinkles while large-sized shoes and fancy heels replaced the tiny sneakers and ballerinas on the shoe rack. And the carefully nurtured nest was no more as noisy or full because the fledglings were beginning to look out for themselves and build their own little comfort zones. And throughout these years, the city was also transforming itself, losing a lot of the old charm and consequently, some of its identity, moving away from the much trodden, well known paths to LED lit, modern roads; small shops disappearing into the cavernous depths of huge malls. But thankfully, the warmth and the love of old friends remained much the same. Today, more than three decades after yours truly – the wide-eyed young girl of yesterday, adapted and adopted and made this city her forever home, I feel as blessed, as grateful and as much in love with this lazy, laid back city of biryani, haleem, Nanking, traffic snarls and a million other woes as the initial days. Even in distant Gurgaon, Hyderabad and the friends of a lifetime will never be out of sight or mind and absence will only make the heart grow fonder.